Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Beautiful Becoming

Today was my birthday, and my sweet mom gifted me with a few hours to myself while she watched the kids.  So I had a fun birthday lunch with my hubby, cashed in my free birthday drink at Starbucks and quietly seated myself in our local library with time to write....something I've been wanting to do for ages.  But writing today has been much harder than I thought it would be.  Actually I knew it would be difficult so to ease myself in, I checked my email, read birthday wishes on Facebook, checked Instagram, read entertainment news online, spent time reading some of my favorite blogs, checked the news headlines, checked the weather multiple times (in case it changed in the last half hour) and of course checked my email again.  I have done practically everything BUT write anything. I'm sure if I was at home, I would have cleaned the kitchen and started a load of laundry or two as well.  Anything but what I'm supposed to be doing.  

Writing feels foreign to me.  Awkward.  Truly difficult. Clunky. Painful even.  A muscle that has not been worked in far too long I wonder if there is even a muscle there anymore!  I have so much to say, but I have completely forgotten how to say things here after being gone for so long. Where and how do I even begin again? 

One thing I know for sure is that in my life, I am supposed to be writing.  Without question.  It is a call on my heart that I feel every. single. day. It helps me to be the true person I'm supposed to be and is a big part of the me I used to be- a part of myself that I miss.  I feel enormously guilty for disobeying this call on my heart and feel that not writing is a big reason I have felt rather personally lost for the past couple of years.

I have contemplated completely quitting many times this past year, (you probably actually thought I did) but I just could not pull the plug (sorry for the horrible unintentional pun) even though I could not write.  Do I start a new blog? (That is still being prayed about).  Do I switch blogging platforms? Do I try and find my "official niche" in the blogging world or do I just plug along and write about life in general?  I have decided to just write about my life- nothing special, nothing in particular, just things I am doing and learning about and celebrating along the way.  

I'm reminded that writing takes practice.  It is a discipline that requires intention, time and effort. I have allowed what once brought me great joy, peace and connection to wither unattended.  I'm embarrassed and ashamed at my recklessness and for taking for granted that there are even people who want to step in and spend time here with me in my corner of the world. If there is even anyone reading this, I just want to say, I love and appreciate you tremendously and I'm sorry for taking you for granted.

This post has been hard to write and I'm sure even harder to read, but having it under my belt feels freeing to me.  My heart feels released to start fresh.   I celebrate this new opportunity to become who it is I am supposed to be.  God is not finished with me yet and I am reminded of this as I sit on the cusp of this new year of life.  It is a gift to become, to grow and change and I am free to leave the guilt of past mistakes behind.  I do not want to bring that baggage forward with me into this new, fresh year.  I can flee from the worry of what people will say or think about the clunkiness of this here blog...the stops, starts, blurs, breaks....It is what it is and it will be what it will be.  It is a platform I have been blessed to have and I simply need to show up and allow Him to show me what to share and write about.  It is His blog, not mine.  I'm good with that.  There is a fresh peace in my heart about it.  

This place has been sacred for me through some of my darkest hours and for the longest time it did not feel like my own any more.  I surrendered ground without a fight and did not feel welcome here- not because of anything someone said, but because of whose Voice I was (or more importantly wasn't) listening to in my heart. Comparison, condemnation, guilt, shame...they were loud and they were lies. 

 It feels lovely to be back here again.  I'm happy to be writing again.  I am reclaiming this space as sacred and holy for myself and it is beautiful.  It feels lovely.  I'm excited to see what it can become with some time, some intention and a whole lot of love.  It is going to take awhile to build up my expressive muscles again, but I'm confident they are still there and can be re-discovered and re-developed. 

Thank you for allowing me to wander and for welcoming me back again.  It feels so good to be back in the blogging world again. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Some Thoughts on Self Kindness and Kindergarten

I knew this day would eventually arrive, but I somehow still was not ready for it. Today would have been Luke's first day of kindergarten.  My heart didn't know what to expect and I certainly did not know how to "plan" for today other than to stay off Facebook in hopes of not being constantly bombarded by everyones fun "first day photos." I hoped for busy kids who would offer me some "alone time" to just be quiet and "busy" around the house.

I was sad we didn't get to take any cute first day photos of Luke by the front door, we did not get to meet his teacher, we did not get to fill his backpack with school supplies, I didn't get to see and meet other first day of kindergarten moms and I won't get to race to see him after school to hear all about his day. Starting school is a tremendous milestone in the life of a little one, and it is just one more that we will never get to celebrate with our Luke.  

But instead of being able to wallow and let myself just be sad, we have had a nightmare of a day over here.  It has been a day of tantrums, time outs, lots of tears, no naps, messes, and just general ugly (mom included). I have no idea what is going on here today, but it has not been good.  On a day when I just personally needed things to be "easy" it has been one of my most challenging on record (and lets just say I have fallen far short of winning any mothering awards today).

What days like today remind me of is that life keeps moving forward whether we want it to or not... And that is a really great thing.  Days dreaded and thought long in the future will eventually come to pass and days long hoped for will too.  Kids will be a handful because that is just what they do and how God made them to be, and I am thankful that mine are absolute handfuls today. (A little bit thankful anyway.  Knowing the alternative makes me see this day through tremendously thankful eyes).

Each day we are presented with choices- joy or sorrow? Abundance or loss? Beauty or ugly? Light or darkness? Gratitude or disappointment? We choose which lens we will use to filter our days through and how we want to impact those around us- for the better as a gift, or for the worse as a wound.

My grief will always be my companion in ways that most will never understand. But despite its constant-ness, I will continue to make every effort to choose joy, beauty, abundance, life, and gratitude.  I want my life to influence for the good.  I am learning how to be kind to myself.  Sounds crazy but it's true. Practicing self kindness on really hard days (and good days too) means allowing some wiggle room for mistakes to be made and tears to fall.  And who knows, with a little more practice, hopeful, positive personal growth may occur and some of those hard earned tears may eventually be tears of joy!

Gratitude today:
coffee in my mug from my hubby this morning
laundry put away
gates on doors
long, hot walks outside that calm the soul and pass some time
double strollers
ear buds
La Croix
nap time
The healing power of Trader Joe's Lemonade - yum!
August is almost half over

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

It is August Again

                                      << imagine a beautiful photo of something summery here>>**

I am still here. Even though months of radio silence have passed.  You might not know this, but I write on this blog nearly every day- in my mind. Isn't that weird? I think about this blank piece of "paper" all. the. time.  I have lots of struggles, adventures and experiences to process, share and write about here, but I rarely prioritize the time to actually sit down and put my virtual pen to paper.  So therefore, it all stays cluttered and scrambled in my head and heart. (Which makes me constantly feel a little scrambled, muddy and cluttered as a result.) 

I miss you guys.  It is August again, my least favorite month and I think that means I need to be here- back on the blog; writing. Can one start fresh in August? I don't know, but I'm going to declare it possible.  I also know that I'm tired, my jeans do not fit and my house is messy....not a great combo!  So what that means to me's time to right the ship and begin again. I am going to start paddling back in the direction I want to go with my life and that means more time spent here. Writing and sharing.  It is so good for my soul to have a creative outlet and I'm happier and better in all areas of life when I'm taking care of my soul in this way.  It's true- plus, I'm tired of keeping all of this goodness to myself.  Haha!

Cheers to August- I'm determined to make it a great one!   See you soon, friends!

**note: This summer we upgraded our technical backup of all photos and now it is SUPER challenging for me to find/post anything photo related.  I'm seriously technically challenged and easily frustrated by the technology world....So all to say, I'm working on learning how to do that as well.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Sisterhood of Motherhood

For me, Mother's Day always brings with it a wild roller coaster ride of emotions. Always happiness, thankfulness, and joy mixed inextricably with sadness, emptiness and grief. It is complicated, tangled, beautiful and dark.  Actually it is like this most days for me if I'm honest.  But Mother's Day has a way of just bringing it all to flood stage for me.

I still move through my life with a giant Luke-shaped hole right beside me.  Most people with untrained eyes cannot see it, but I cannot not see it.  I miss him more than a million tears can express.  I think about how he would be getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall.  I wonder what he would enjoy playing with but most of all think of what it would be like to hear his laugh and jokes mixed in among his sister's and brother's as we eat lunch together every day.  I wonder what his hugs would feel like, what his favorite book would be.  I long so deeply to be his mother in more tangible ways than in just photos and memories. Being Luke's mom is a gift I was given and one I will gratefully cling to all of my days...even when it breaks my heart again and again.

My sweet Lily brings the sunshine to my life.  She always has.  Her imagination and constant dialogue never give me a moment's peace, but I miss it (the constant-ness of it) when she is at school or taking a nap. She is a jokester, a reader, a snuggle bug, a master pretender, a player of games and a kind-hearted friend to others.  I love being her mother and her laugh brings tears to my eyes with its sheer beauty. It is absolute music to my heart.  She loves Jesus and loves learning and it is a gift to be her mom every minute of every day.  

This year, I am blessed to celebrate Mother's Day with my newest little love bug:  my sweet little Logan.  He radiates joy, sweetness, strength, adventure and energy into our days and sometimes I feel like my heart will burst with the goodness of it all. I love listening to him chat while we ride in the car and his love of his sister (and her complete adoration of him) melts my mama heart every time.  His toothy grin, belly laugh, speed and unstoppable energy make my heart sing. He is our boy.  When I catch him looking at me and grinning, my eyes can fill with tears in the blink of an eye. He is our little miracle-blessing-answer-to-prayer and every day with him reminds me of God's faithfulness and goodness. 

I would be remiss without mentioning that part of my motherhood would not be possible without the selfless sacrifice of Logan's birth mother.  This year will be her first Mother's Day as a mother and I know all too well the ache of marking this day with empty arms. I know Logan will be on her mind and in her heart and while I do not know if she will be actually celebrating per se, I know I will be celebrating her. My gratitude for what she gave us extends beyond words.  She is part of our family, my sister in motherhood and always will be and I am forever grateful.  

Mothering. It is the hard, hard work of shaping, nurturing, caring for and bringing life to someone or something-and it seems silly to celebrate it for only one day a year.  I do believe that ALL women are mothers in the way they bring life to their plants, pets, children (both their own and other's), their friendships, their home, ideas, dreams, plans, relationships, and words.  Mothers are life-givers and I am blessed to be surrounded by so many.

By giving ourselves to the life and well-being of another or to the growth and development of a dream, we learn that when we give our hearts fully to something- whatever it might be- when we love it enough to give everything we have and then set it free - not knowing if it will eventually return to us- we find ourselves richer, changed, better, softer and wiser for the journey.  And I am so thankful that I am not alone on this path.  I celebrate all of the women in my life today- you are all mothers in some shape or form and I love you for it. Thank you for holding my hand, praying big prayers, dreaming big dreams, wiping my tears, sharing your wisdom, making me laugh, holding me accountable, offering encouragement, hugging me tight and cheering me on- it means more than I can say. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Beautiful Books

Every night when I tuck her in, we spend a few seconds arranging the dozens of books that sleep beside her.  She reads them with her flashlight long into the darkness after we have kissed our goodnights. They are her companions, her friends and she wants them close by.  I adore this about my girl:  she is a reader.  

I too love to read.  As far back as I can remember, I have kept lists of the books I have finished and those I someday plan to read.  I also made my peace and I stopped finishing books I do not like.  In my opinion, life is too short to suffer through books you don’t love. These days, I am an admitted slow reader.  In this season, most of my reading time comes in the middle of the night after waking up with a little one, so needless to say, I am several years behind on “current” books.  But I don’t mind, it just means I have a built in discussion group because everyone else has usually already read the book I just finished.  It is kind of nice actually. 

Are you a reader too? Is there anything better than a good book? I have been on a roll lately with good books and so I thought I would pass along some recommendations in case you have not read them and were looking for some good books for your summer reading list.  These are some of my favorites from the past few months and some from last year as well.  These recommendations are based completely my own opinion and like I mentioned, I am pretty behind the times.  I hope you enjoy!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  • This one.  Oh, this one.  If you read any book on this list, do not miss this one.  I forced myself to read it slow because I loved it so much and did not want it to be over.  It opened my eyes to a new perspective of World War II and I adored the characters and missed them long after I finished the book. It is beautifully written with a powerful message of love and friendship.  This book changed me. So, so beautiful.

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
  • I love every word Shauna writes.  I love her writing style. I love her love of food and relationships and how she writes about faith without writing about faith.  This book is another one I never wanted to put down.  Lovely, beautiful and rich.  Plus it is packed with recipes, so if you enjoy cooking or entertaining, this is a beautiful book to have on hand. 

Love Does by Bob Goff
  • This book is a delight.  If you do not know who Bob is, when you read this book, you will want to be his friend- I promise.  I have given this book as a gift to so many people since I finished it.  It is a book based on his funny, amazing, inspiring and super encouraging life.  I wish I could have Bob over for dinner every week!  

The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • This one broke my drought.  I had been in a long slump of reading good books when a friend recommended this one to me.  It is not very long, but will completely transport you to a different era of time and will absorb you into an amazing story.  It is historical fiction based around a famous painting and I loved it.

The Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
  • This book sat on my shelf for over a year before I actually picked it up and began reading.  Once I started, I could hardly put it down.  It had a tremendous impact on me and I found it to be deeply encouraging both spiritually and relationally. It is a beautiful story about the impact of friendship and the influence one life can have on another.  It is a true and beautiful story.

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

  • I had been reading Katie’s blog about her life in Uganda before picking up her book.  It is an amazing first hand account from an amazing girl who followed God's call on her heart and gave up a life of privilege to adopt and parent over a dozen children in Uganda. Her faith is inspirational and her story is encouraging.  

What Women Fear by Angie Smith
  • This book is amazing.  It is so relatable and insightful and powerful.  I read this book during my quiet time about a year ago and still think about it today.  I love the way Angie writes and know I will go back to this book in the months and years ahead.

I have read many others as well, but these are the ones that have stayed with me long after I finished them.  The photo at the top of this post is of the books I hope to tackle in 2015.  So far I have read about four books this year- two of which were not even on my  "hope to read" list, so that has been a fun surprise.  If you have any books you have read that you loved, please pass the recommendations along my way! 

Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Logan is 8 Months Old!

serious cuteness alert!

Hello World!

I'm eight months old today!  

there are two of my teeth
I'm doing great and getting bigger by the minute.  Mom says I have a million facial expressions these days and that they are all cute.  I'm loving being a little brother and especially love it when my sister brings me toys to play with.  One of my favorite things to do is knock over people's block towers.  That never gets old! 

Now that I'm crawling everywhere, I can really get into some stuff!  I am working hard to learn how to crawl on hardwood floors.  Sometimes I can do it without any problem, and sometimes my pants and socks make things a little bit slippery and I get sad and frustrated that I can't get where I want to go, so someone has to come and help me.

I am eating a ton of food these days.  

My favorites from this month are are avocado, squash, pears and mangos.  I also enjoy cottage cheese and trying to grab the spoon and feed myself.  Sometimes my mom just lets me go to town and I make a huge mess, and other times she tries to keep me semi-clean so she doesn't have to change my outfit several times a day.  

I like to keep her guessing with where she will find mashed food on my outfits and on me.  I am also learning to feed myself. I really enjoy eating puffs when I can get them into my mouth.

I love my napping schedule.  My mom and dad put me down awake and most of the time, I'm asleep within a minute.  It's rare for me to cry at all when I'm going to sleep now.

I nap twice a day for about 90 min to two hours each time.  I sleep for about 14 hours at night (waking once sometime for a bottle)- which mom says is really great.  I wake up rested and ready to go.  I love to look out the window and can't wait for spring so we can play outside more.  

This month when we had a really nice day, our family took a walk to the park and I got to swing a little bit for the first time which I LOVED.  

These days, my favorite toys are anything I can put into my mouth so everyone really has to keep their eyes on me to make sure I'm playing with the right stuff.  I have four teeth now.  I finally cut my second top tooth which was exciting.  Mom is hoping for some relief for me in the teething department as I had another ear infection a couple of weeks ago and had to go visit the doctor again because I was not feeling well and not sleeping hardly at all.  But I'm doing MUCH better now thanks to my medicine.

Speaking of medicine, I did much better taking my medicine this time around which was nice for my mom and dad.  I can easily sit by myself these days and can go from sitting to crawling but am still working on going from crawling to sitting.  As I mentioned, I love to crawl around and explore everything.  I enjoy reading books and my favorite person is my sis.  

I miss her when she goes to preschool two mornings a week.  She always makes me laugh and loves to bring me toys and play with me.  She is a hoot.

I love my life!


Sunday, February 15, 2015


I notice....

The way her energy cannot be contained.  

How I love the way she dance-walks-runs toward me with her smile lighting the many times a day. 

The way her imagination explodes beauty into our world.

How she loves her books.

The way he joyfully grabs the spoon and tries to jaw his pureed peas.

The way the sippy cup bangs happy and relentless on the high chair tray.  

The way it seems crumbs, mess and dirty laundry emerge from thin air and pile up everywhere.  

How I love the way they crack each other up.

The way the sun sets lavender and pink behind the empty branches reaching for the sky outside the window while I wash bottles for the thousandth time.  

Twilight is my favorite time of day.

I am slowly and deliciously savoring one of the best books I have read in years...purposely reading only a few pages a day in hopes of making it last longer.

The way a clear kitchen counter goes a long way toward clearing my mind. 

How the sound of a little thumb being sucked by a little head laying on my shoulder is one of the sweetest in the whole world. 

The way water splashed everywhere at bath time is completely worth it for the fun that was had.

How love is spelled t-i-m-e for her little heart. 

The way a flower-shaped flashlight in her hand at night makes her happy. 

The way misshapen pink, frosted cookies are beautiful and taste even better than pretty ones.  

My jeans do not fit me which reminds me I'm not exercising which reminds me my time is not my own which reminds me I'm in a season which reminds me that they will fit me again someday. And I move on.

The way two hour naps fly by and although they sound long, are not really when put into the framework of accomplishing something more than picking up the kitchen, eating lunch and grabbing a quick shower (on a good day).  

How all the same, two hour naps are an absolute blessing to me.  

That beautiful queens (Like Elsa) wear only one braid....therefore she does too. 

The way sparkly shoes go with everything. 

The way crawling is a liberating challenge for everyone involved.   

The way baby smiles with three teeth are the best. 

The way I'm covered in slobber, tears, food, snot and milk most days, most of the time...and I don't even notice.

The way yoga pants are awesome and awful at the same time. 

The way he delights in grabbing my hair that rests on my shoulders, tiny hands pulling hard. 

The way baby fingernails grow fast on little, busy hands.  

The way she was born to be a big sister.

The beautiful way little brothers adapt and accept the craziness of big sisters being "funny" all around them.  

The way she delights in teaching herself to read.  

How I'm working on owning certain opinions that I have about things.

The way she has no idea how much she teaches me. 

The way most days I feel defeated, unseen and blessed all at the same time.  

How I often feel disconnected and hidden behind the walls of my home where I live with two littles who require my life and what feels like every ounce of my energy. 

The way I think little kids in glasses are adorable.

How the days where I get to drink half of my cup of coffee are considered good days. 

The way some days my ever-present grief can still swallow me with no advance notice. 

How deeply I admire her budding inner strength and self-awareness.

The way most days I don't know where to start or more importantly how to start again.

The ways I'm quietly trying to start again anyways.

How time all by myself is difficult to find but essential to my well-being. My husband knows and respects this about me and I am beyond lucky to be loved and known in this way.

How I adore my family- beyond words.  But sometimes I secretly dream of going to a beach resort by myself and staying for weeks with only books for my companions.

The way she invented a funny language that is all her own- and she cracks herself up being funny.

How sometimes I belly laugh and it makes me cry big heart tears.

The way she loves Prince Hans of the Southern Isles with her whole heart ("when he's nice!")

How deeply I want the innocence of childhood to last forever.

The sweet way she practices growing her conversation skills. 

How deeply I adore that he is her biggest fan and she his.

The way it is easy for my days and weeks and months to blur together- beautifully difficult and good. 

The way consciously re-learning and re-remembering how noticing beauty anchors my soul in moments I never want to forget.  

The ways I try to love the best I can- every day.  

How my husband tries to show me that I am known and loved- every day.

The way holding hands makes me feel safe.

God is in the business of making all things new and I am thankful for the way He is inviting me to pursue change in my life- even though it will require my diligence and energy I often feel I don't have to give.   

I'm on a journey of becoming someone new- someone the King dreamed me to be.  I often feel lost and less than that daughter....more often than I care to admit...especially lately.  It is a battle - this noticing and deep honesty.  But, I'm remembering from my past, that by developing the discipline of noticing the gifts found deep in the moments...especially the difficult moments, I will also be able to claim victory in the battle for my thoughts, my life.  And I absolutely want to live a victorious life.

So today, I will start by noticing....